Despite the poor breeding season in 2012, one of the great positives during the project has been the uptake of a nest boxes by Barn Owls. A box put in place in a barn in Duhallow last November produced two young, and we have a female now resident in another which was only installed in early 2012. Another bird has been sighted at a third box.
As the Project heads toward autumn, thoughts are turning to where to place the next series of boxes, and we have already chosen a number of suitable sites. Five more boxes will be in place within the next two months, ready for any prospecting Barn Owls.
Careful siting of a nest box can greatly increase the chances of it being used. This one is in an old hay barn in Co. Kerry. A bird has been visiting it in each of the two previous winters. Will it pair up and breed there next summer? – let's hope so (M.O'Clery).
From our experience throughout Kerry and Duhallow, nest boxes might be taken up at any time after their installation. At one site, where the original nest was found to be suddenly unsuitable (slates had blown off from over the nest, allowing rain to fall directly into it), we placed a nest box close by, and the birds moved in within about five weeks and raised two young that summer. In two cases this summer, boxes which had been in place for over three years were finally used as nests by the owls. One of these had no owl activity around it for the three years, the other had birds occasionally visiting the site in winter and spring, but disappearing each summer.
Brin McDonald from the Duhallow Raptor Conservation Project holds one of two chicks which hatched from a Duhallow nest box this summer. Brin and John Lusby installed the box last winter. (M.O'Clery).
So if you are planning to instal a Barn Owl nest box on your farm or premises, there are a few important points to bear in mind, which you can read about on this page HERE.
Good luck, and remember, it can be a few years before the owls move in.